Love everyone, thats our theme right now. The last line of our tag line. Love can be so many things. People talk about the romantic kind, the kind that makes a great movie, the one that gives us butterflies and every looks at and says ahhhh.
But who talks about the every day struggle bus love?
The love that endures sickness and stress?
The love that shows up for the other when they can't show up for themselves?
The love that doesn't look romantic, but is more secure and a picture of true love then any lovey dovey movie will ever have.
This week I experienced this type of love. We threw a party for my in-laws 50th anniversary. That in itself is a pretty awesome love story. But looking into their story the last 7 years has shown a picture of love that most people don't experience. You see my father-in-law has Lewy body Dementia. Which means he suffers from Dementia and Parkinsons disease. This disease is horrible to watch. To see a man who was full of wit, brilliance of mind, sense of humor, be stripped of himself, is horrible.
The love that my mother in law has provided for him, is probably not what she imagined when she said her vows. Through sickness and in health. I will love you forever, no matter what. She demonstrates the NO MATTER WHAT everyday.
Their love story isn't the one that makes the beautiful cover of a book or movie. It's not the butterflies and romance. It is the hard, gritty, showing up day in and day out to care for someone who can't care for themselves. It is putting aside all of your dreams and desires to care physically and emotionally for someone else.
You know when someone who is really in love says, "I couldn't live without you." He literally could not live without her. She is his air, his world. She cleans him, cooks, keeps him safe, comforts him. She is apart of him and he apart of her. He can't express himself anymore, but I saw glimpses this weekend. Him holding her hand, smiling, that knowing look. I saw glimpses of his old self. The self that loved her so well.
I want the romantic, butterfly, can't live without you love. But I want THIS LOVE most. I want the hard, gritty, show-up each day, even when it can feel unbearable love the most.
Grant and I met on an airplane. We have been married 15 years, but it's funny, we say, sometimes that we are just getting to know each other. We are very different, so we are always learning ways to love each other well. Saying you are sorry,offering forgiveness,having patience, are all things that make a marriage work, and ones I need to work on more.
Here are some things that have kept us loving one another:
1. KNOW EACH OTHERS LOVE LANGUAGE:
Find your spouses here: Mine is time spent and affirmation and touch. I am basically all of them! (poor Grant), Grant’s is acts of service. So if I have his clothes laundered, or lunch prepared for him in advance, he is feeling loved. But if he did laundry for me, I could care less. WE tend to love our spouses the way we like to be loved. So when we first got married I would give him all the affirmation and he would clean the house. But because those weren't OUR love languages, it didn't work! Now he knows I would rather cuddle on the couch then him do laundry. And I know he would rather have his dry cleaning picked up, then a note that tells him how much he means to me:)
2. DATE NIGHT
Each week we plan a date night. It's usually on Tuesdays so we can get a babysitter or switch with a friend. Do we need date night every week, probably not, but there are some weeks, we really need to touch base with each other and share our hearts, and some weeks it's just good to be together. With both of our busy schedules it is one of those things that is preventative. Because my love language is TIME SPENT, just having the date night makes me feel special.
3. ASK SIMPLE QUESTIONS
- How did I love you well this week?
- How can I pursue you well this coming week, or pray for you?
- What does your schedule look like?
These questions can take 5 minutes or 5 hours! Usually it's just a check-in. But knowing what the other has planned for the week gives us the opportunity to give each other so much more grace. If Grant communicates to me that he is stressed at work, then I am much more of a grace giver when he is home late. I knew in advance. And he knows when I have a huge launch week coming up, the house will look like a bomb went off. It’s not because I didn't want to pick up, but because I had other things going on.
4. GET AWAY TOGETHER:
I know this might seem hard for some, but whatever you have to do, bribe your parents to watch your kids, get away for a few nights WITHOUT kids. Sleep in, enjoy each other, have no responsibilities. Each year we get away with our best friends, we check in with our marriages, we ask super hard questions, and we always come back more motivated to work on us.
5. PRAY TOGETHER:
Each night we pray together. I am not talking about getting on our knees and praying for hours. I am talking about before bed, Grant prays for us. It's simple and sweet, but has been our thing for 15 years and one of my most special times of the day.
6. SAY I LOVE YOU BEFORE YOU GET OFF THE PHONE EVERY TIME.
Loving your spouse is a journey, none of us have it down, we do it better some seasons than others. But don't let the mundane and the crazy hassle of life overcome your relationship. Because if you aren't careful you will look and say, what happened? Be proactive instead of reactive.
***We would love to hear how you love your spouse well.***